With the evolution of digital cameras and RAW file processors, we are now enabled to capture remarkable water sports images. Such outstanding photographs were previously reserved for the pages of national magazines like Sports Illustrated. Now we all have the “secret” tools at our own fingertips!
Most of our DSLR cameras today have super-fast shutter speeds — as quick as 1/8000 of a second. I shot these RAW files at 1/2000 of a second @f2.8 with a 70-200 zoom. Shutter speed is just a tiny part of the winning equation. Working in your Raw processor is the real key.
I use either Adobe Camera RAW or Adobe Lightroom 2 to develop my RAW files (really, I just open the one that is most handy at the given moment). Within the RAW processor, I grab the paintbrush tool and do two main things; 1) lighten up the shadows on the face with some fill light, and 2) paint a whole gob of clarity onto the splashing water. The clarity slider gives the water that solid glass appearance. This is what will make your photo stand apart from the others. The final part of the equation is to bump up your sharpness to about 100, or so. The end result is a crisp and snappy image that looks like it was shot for an Olympic ad campaign!